With the explosion of cloud software vendors, we are entering a new level of a hyper competitive landscape for B2B technology. Every category has more vendors than most people can keep track. There are the established leaders, but there are also startups and category killers. With this much noise in the market, it can be pretty difficult to determine why buyers should select a particular solution. I have discussed the need for B2B market research.
My first exposure to win loss analysis
In my days in product management at Oracle, we always thought we knew the reasons we lost deals. It was almost always due to sales not correctly positioning the product. Or that is at least what we told ourselves. When I was in sales at Oracle, we always believed the problem was that the product was insufficient.
In both cases we were wrong. How did we know this? We commissioned a win/loss analysis. We hired a 3rd party firm and looked into why customers chose us and why they chose our competitors.
While the product and our sales teams had issues, the larger issue was a lack of awareness and product GTM strategy. We were positioning middleware, but we had two problems. First and foremost, the market had very low awareness of our middleware products. They knew Oracle had databases and applications, but middleware? Not so much. Their lack of knowledge influenced their perceptions around product maturity and viability.
Furthermore, we discovered that the key decision makers, usually some custom application dev team, didn’t have a relationship with Oracle. While we were successful in selling middleware as an extension to the database or application, we just didn’t get traction in the deals that weren’t related to either of those. This analysis enabled us to prepare a presentation to senior management and alter our GTM strategy.
When should you run win loss analysis?
First off, there is no wrong time to run win/loss analysis. It is always the right time for this type of insight. Typically I recommend to my clients to run a win/loss analysis 4-6 weeks after purchase.
But there are market conditions that dictate a need for win/loss analysis. First off, hop to this analysis if you are losing deals you think you should win. Also, if there has been a market shakeup. Wait a few months then talk to buyers to see what is going on. Also, if you are a startup and receive funding, taking a moment to take stock of the competitive landscape before that desired hockey stick growth. And remember it is win/loss analysis, not loss analysis. You should run this even if you consistently win, especially if you don’t know why you win.
What will the benefits be from running win loss analysis?
What will you really get out of this? In my example above, we gained insight into our whole GTM strategy but what are realistic expectations?
Insight into the buying process
You probably are familiar with your selling process, but what about how a customer actually buys. Much of your content likely assumes a buying process. Do your customers really think about buying the same way that you do? What are the reasons they buy? Why did they select the solution they did?
Effectiveness of your sales team
What do your sales reps do right? What do they do wrong? Often the first finger pointed when sales are flagging is at the sales team. They are an easy team to pick on. Real data about winning and losing will clear that up pretty quickly.
Your content and messaging
The buying process can be quite long and complicated, are your sales materials resonating? Are they driving inbound requests? If not, what does appear compelling? How are your sales presentations? Demos? Oh, and what do your customer references really say about you?
Product management likely expresses a keen interest in this. And you can get a good bit of information about how the product stacks up to the competition. However, keep in mind that much of it will be through the lens of sales effectiveness, content and messaging.
Do you need to complete win loss analysis? Do you need help? If so, call me @ 303-956-3185, use the contact page or email me at michael @ michael-seymour.com to get a free consultation on completing win loss analysis.